The curious case of Dayan Viciedo


Dayan Viciedo hit 21 home runs last season for the Chicago White Sox, who signed him to a $4.4 million deal on Jan. 12 and then designated him for assignment two weeks later.

Talk about depreciation. But who could blame the White Sox, who needed a roster spot after they signed infielder Gordon Beckham, who’s three years older, $2.4 million cheaper, and a much higher pedigree, if a failed one, than Viciedo.

It’s the kind of irrational move White Sox fans should be used to, from a team, which like a nervous baserunner, has an apparent lack of commitment. If the White Sox were a TV character, they’d be Big on Sex and the City.

The White Sox are all in on 2015 with the addition of Jeff Samardzjia, David Robertson, Melky Cabrera, Adam LaRoche, Emilio Bonifacio and Zack Duke, but all doesn’t include Viciedo, whose spot on the 40-man roster isn’t as valuable as .145-hitting outfielder J.B. Shuck. That’s the kind of apprehension Big would understand.

“The thought with designating him was to flesh out any interest over the next 10 days or so and find him a better home going into the season,” White Sox GM Rick Hahn said, according to the dailyhearld.com.

That’s a touching sentiment. But there was a cheaper way to determine Viciedo’s trade value: ask around. Surely the White Sox must have a group email for the other 29 GMs? Because whatever the White Sox get for Viciedo in a trade this week, it will be less than they would have before they designated him for assignment. Designating a player for assignment and then trading him is the equivalent of the salesman telling you what a lemon the car is before selling it.

To be sure, Viciedo has his flaws, as many as the home runs he hits. He lacks discipline at the plate, whether it’s with a bat, with which he’s struck out four times for every walk in his career (388-95), or a knife and fork, with which he’s eaten enough to weigh 240 pounds and chew his way off third base. He’s defensively inept, and ineffective versus right-handed pitching, against whom he has a .679 career OPS.

But power is a precious commodity in 2015, and Viciedo’s 21 home runs last year were more in the American League than all but 24 players, 14 of whom had more at-bats. And one of them was Adam Dunn, who hit 106 home runs over four years for $56 million for the White Sox. Even at $4.4 million, Viciedo would return more.

Viciedo’s home, which Hahn seems so concerned about, should be in the batter’s box facing left-handed pitching, against whom he has a career .291 average, .507 slugging percentage and nearly a third of his 66 home runs.

“It’s not going to surprise any of us in the least if he (has) a very successful career elsewhere,” Hahn said, according to the Chicago Tribune. “It just got to the point with our organization where we decided to go a different direction.”

That’s GM speak for something, which like the White Sox’s intentions, is often mysterious. That the White Sox wanted separation from Viciedo is understandable; that they signed Beckham and protected Shuck to effect it isn’t.

Viciedo is 25, and he’ll hit a lot of home runs, maybe 30 some season, strike out way more and probably frustrate a few more general managers in the next few years. The smart ones will designate him to hit lefties, and not for assignment.

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